There's no shortage of fabulous things to see and do in the St. Pete/Clearwater area. But commit to a bit of car time and you'll open up a whole new universe of entertainment and relaxation possibilities. Just 30 minutes will get you to Tampa and its myriad attractions, and a mere 90 minutes will let you tap Orlando's roster of rollicking family destinations. Both cities make for ideal day trips and their offerings will leave you with the feeling that you truly made the most of your St. Pete stay--for yourself and your family.
Buy a CityPASS Tampa Bay and you'll save big on many of the spots you'll want to visit, including Busch Gardens, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and MOSI: the Museum of Science and Industry. CityPASS holders save 51% compared to combined regular box office prices. Learn more and purchase mobile CityPASS tickets, as well as ticket booklets here.
From Waterparks to Aquariums: Tampa Bay Attractions
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
The main draw in this fun, family oriented park are the mermaids in the mermaid theater who swim in the seemingly bottomless ancient springs along with manatees and turtles. The Riverboat Cruise on the Weeki Wachee River showcases native wildlife.
Crystal River, about a two hour drive from Tampa/St. Petersburg, is situated around the magnificent Kings Bay, along Central Florida's "Nature Coast"—a locale that's rich in natural beauty and history. Pay a visit to the stately white buildings of the Plantation on Crystal River and tap into the area's many boating, diving, swimming and fishing opportunities. The warm waters of the Crystal River (the springs flow at a constant 72 degrees) attract herds of manatees, and this is one of the few places you can swim with them.
Located right across the street from Busch Gardens® Tampa, Adventure Island® is 30 acres of water-drenched fun featuring the ultimate combination of high-speed thrills and tropical, tranquil surroundings. New for the 2015 season, hurtle high and experience a feeling of weightlessness on Colossal Curl™, Adventure Island’s newest family thrill slide.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens® Tampa is the ultimate family adventure, combining world-class thrill rides, live entertainment and more than 12,000 animals. Venture across the Serengeti and race like a Cheetah aboard Florida’s first triple-launch coaster Cheetah Hunt. Plus, enjoy the fully-remodeled Pantopia with shopping, dining, live entertainment and North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury®.
The Florida Aquarium
The 200,000-sq.-ft. Florida Aquarium tells Florida’s unique water story, from a drop of water underground to the open sea. Super gripping exhibits give you the amazing scoop on oceans, bays and beaches, wetlands and coral reefs. Some exhibits even offer interactive touch experiences and divers can go underwater to explore udnerwater life firsthand. Another participatory facet: a 2-acre outdoor water adventure zone that'll get kids riding waves and slides.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
At this 4 1/2-acre zoo recognized by Parents magazine as the No.1 zoo in the United States, your kids will feed a rhino and giraffe, walk among hopping kangaroos and brush a goat, but it's not just for kids. The zoo also offers intriguing behind-the-scenes tours affording up-close encounters with animals and insight into the day-to-day life of zookeepers.
MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry)
The largest science center in the southeastern United States provides learning experiences through numerous interactive exhibits and play. Extraordinary examples: Disasterville, whichwill give you the science behind tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires; and MOSI's High Wire Bike, where you'll harness yourself into a bike and soar along a 98-foot-long steel cable suspended 30 feet above the ground.
Wizards, Animal Encounters and Rides: Orlando Area Attractions
Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios®
At this theme park, pulse-pumping rides, shows and interactive attractions bring the magic of stories, cartoons and comic booksto life. Experience, for example, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Seuss Landing and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica
This fascinating trio is housed in a single complex. At Seaworld, an interactive marine adventure park, you'll find 200 acres of world-class shows, rides and encounters with stingrays, dolphins, sea turtles and seal lions. Discover Cove, an exclusive island oasis,will give you a chance to swim with dolphins and explore coral reefs.The signature attraction of Aquatica, Seaworld's waterpark, is Dolphin Plunge--ride in clear tubes through a blue lagoon where Commerson's dolphins reside.
Discovery Cove: www.discoverycove.com
Walt Disney World Resort
Bring the family to the place where beloved Disney characters and their tales come to life in thrilling rides, terrific restaurants, fireworks extravaganzas and delightful parades. Here, you can take in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, home to more than 1,700 animals; Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the exciting attractions are based on blockbuster movies and top TV shows; Epcot, where a universe of tech innovations and the culture and cuisine of 11 countries make you feel that you've left you daily life behind; and the Magic Kingdom Park, where six different fantasy lands give you a chance to become a swashbuckling pirate, walk around Cinderellas Castle and soar through space.
Geared towards youngsters ages two through 12, the 150-acre LEGOLAND Florida interactive theme park offers more than 50 rides, spectacular shows, restaurants, shopping, a fab botanical garden and wonderful water park. Here, 11 themed zones make it easy to get around and soak up the fun.